Arterial Drainage Bill, 1944—Fifth Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

There are one or two remarks that I should like to make, Sir, on this stage. I do not propose to go into the matter that was debated at such length yesterday, as it seems that it was decided otherwise and that there were definite views upon it. Accordingly, I shall leave that to someone else but, now that the Bill has reached its final stage, there are some considerations to which I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to give a little time and attention. Apart from the fact that I was mainly concerned with one particular problem, from the Second Stage onwards, I think it would be advisable for the Parliamentary Secretary to address himself to that point for a few moments. On the Second Stage of the Bill, the Parliamentary Secretary gave an indication of his view and, perhaps, of policy, in the matter of dealing with a drainage scheme which may have to cross the Border into Northern Ireland. I got the impression — and I think it is true to say that the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary gave the impression generally — that until we could tackle that scheme as a whole — begin at the beginning and proceed to the end in connection with this whole matter — it was deemed to be advisable not to do anything. That is the impression that I got and, if that is the case, I think that the Parliamentary Secretary should amend that statement. I think it would be advisable for him to state that we are not merely going to wait for a considerable period in order to see what other people are going to do, or whether they are going to make up their minds on the matter.

If it is not possible to get agreement with the authorities in the northern portion of this island with a view to putting into effect a joint scheme for drainage, then I suggest that we shall only have to go on and help ourselves. My view is that that situation would be helped considerably if the Parliamentary Secretary were to indicate something along those lines. It would create a very difficult position for all the people in the territory affected whose holdings are depreciated year after year by flooding if they are to be put into the position that they have to depend for the remedying of that situation on agreements between people who are not prepared to come to an agreement as to whether the scheme should be operative over the whole area or not.

I do not know whether or not the Parliamentary Secretary has anything to convey to the House as regards discussions with the Governments on either side of the Border, or their representatives, or whether any such discussions have taken place with regard to putting into operation a scheme for the whole territory. It may be that the people affected by the drainage problem on the other side of the Border will waken up and look to their rights as they should do. It may be that they will ally themselves with our people, who are their people, to secure a comprehensive scheme for the whole area. If there were more spirit on the part of the ordinary ratepaying community on the other side of the Border I am quite convinced that it would not be possible for the authorities there to withstand the pressure they have it in their power to apply. I think that there is evidence of an awakening by farmers across the Border in respect to this problem, which is an intensive problem so far as they are concerned, and presses hardly upon them. I should hope that that spirit would grow and develop so that the people in the Six Counties would openly and willingly make their contribution to a comprehensive scheme. If no progress can be made at a reasonably early date from that end, the Parliamentary Secretary should tell the people that he is not going to wait, that he will proceed within our own territory, even though the work may be more expensive and less productive because of not being sufficiently comprehensive.

When the Bill was passing through the Dáil a question was raised as regards policy in dealing with those schemes. I do not know whether or not the Department have clarified their thoughts with regard to this matter of policy since the question was raised. But there must be some plan or policy. The Parliamentary Secretary has said that a certain number of schemes will be taken because a certain amount of work has already been done on them. I should like to have an outline of policy on that matter. I submit that the questions raised here on an amendment by Senator O'Dea should be given some consideration. Many of us may not live to see this scheme achieve its purpose, but there is no doubt that a great deal can be done in drainage areas by a partial effort. If we are to accept it that the Parliamentary Secretary envisages an expenditure of £250,000 over a number of years and cannot go beyond that because of various difficulties, regard should be had to the question of how to achieve most for the expenditure. In a number of drainage areas a great deal of good could be done by rather small expenditure. Perhaps I may give a concrete example. In the drainage district which we discussed here — Ballinamore and Ballyconnell — there are two mills, the owners of which have certain rights. I know the topography and I have no doubt that if those rights were acquired and turbines put in, the effect on the level of the water for miles would be so considerable as to alter the character of the holdings over all that area. When I was coming here yesterday I saw immense floods along the Boyne. Obviously there is a big problem there to which one cannot close one's eyes. I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary what the commissioners' policy will be in regard to those schemes. Doubtless they will be influenced in their policy by the weapons and tools to hand. What are required for drainage? Plans, maps, different kinds of equipment, engineering skill and manpower to do the job.

I do not know what limitations will be imposed on the commissioners by lack of planning. I do not know how far plans have been made over a period of years for various schemes. I do not know what the situation is as regards engineers who are accepted as competent. Only a limited number of people may be competent but we have done so little that a high standard of competence cannot be expected because of absence of opportunity of training. I venture to think that somewhere there are trained, Irish engineers who would be competent to take their part in this work and I suggest that we should go after them and get them instead of waiting for two or three generations to complete the work contemplated by this Bill. I think we ought to go after those engineers wherever they are. I am sure that some of those men who left this country in the last five or six years have acquired in that time a degree of competence and experience which, in the normal course, could hardly have been acquired in half a life-time. I think it would be well worth investigating the possibility of getting some of those men to come back here and help us in this task.

I do not know what is the Parliamentary Secretary's view with regard to equipment, but I am sure we will have to import a considerable amount of heavy equipment which we cannot manufacture here. I imagine there will be considerable possibilities of securing a good deal of that equipment; I hope that in a short time other countries will be looking around to see what they can do with all the bulldozers they have been using in the past five or six years. I suggest that the purchase of a considerable amount of equipment is something that we ought to face up to, and then let us see where we are to find the men to do the work — the engineers and the men to handle the machines. Perhaps one would be influenced by the kind of arguments that were advanced here yesterday, say, by Senator Madden, about what was done in Limerick. I do not mind where a group of engineers enter on new territory, uncharted territory, if you like, there are bound to be mistakes, and if we are going to take no steps until the engineers are convinced that there is no possible margin of error we will not get very far. If we waited for the carrying through of the Shannon scheme until all possibility of error had been eliminated, it could never have been attempted. I think the German engineers made a great many discoveries after they had started the work. I do not think we ought to wait until all our plans have been perfected by the engineers. Even if we did, I think mistakes might afterwards be discovered. We ought to try to get the benefits of this Bill to the greatest possible extent in our lifetime. The generation who brought the State into existence ought to utilise all the State's machinery to the full, and to pass on the property of the State to the next generation in the highest possible state of efficiency. I am quite sure that, from the point of view of making everything so secure that it could not he challenged, it would be wise to go cautiously, but I should rather take risks. I am quite prepared to say that, no matter how the Commissioners of Public Works and the engineers plan and provide, there will still be errors, and the country will have to pay for them, but it is better to take a chance of having to pay for the errors than to hold up the work. In every part of the country, especially in my own county, where there are fairly considerable works being carried out under the land improvement scheme, the main drains have to carry more water off the land. There again there is reason for urgency in this whole matter.

Now I come to the last point, and perhaps it is really the kernel of the whole problem, either in the matter of drainage or in any plan of reconstruction. You can only carry out drainage by borrowing money to do the work. The cost cannot be met out of current revenue, and the real cost of drainage will be determined by the cost of the money which is borrowed. If you borrow a small sum at a very high rate of interest, the repayment is a very considerable burden. The commission made reference to what the cost of a number of schemes which have been tentatively considered would be at the rate of 3 per cent. interest. Probably Senator Sir John Keane will not agree with me, but I give my opinion for what it is worth; I do not know why this country ought to be expected or compelled to hold up drainage schemes until we can get money at 3 per cent. I think 3 per cent. is unreasonable for a job like national drainage. There are a number of charges which have to be met in connection with it. The money that you borrow is one charge; the machines that you buy are another charge; the physical effort of the men who do the work is a further charge. If you make a payment for the service of the money out of proportion to its true value, you can only pay for the other services at a correspondingly lower figure. That is why people talk about uneconomic drainage schemes. That is really the reason why schemes are uneconomic; they are uneconomic when you are carrying out the schemes with money at 4½ or 5 per cent. interest. It is very difficult to make a success of any business when the cost of any particular service which is essential to the running of that business is too high.

In this matter of national drainage, I think the State should definitely set its face against a situation where the service of the money anything like approximates to what we have been accustomed to pay for the service of money in the past. Britain, which is fighting a war, has been borrowing thousands of millions of pounds at less than 2 per cent.—1? per cent. or something like that. For what? For slaughtering people, for blowing towns and cities to atoms, and souls to eternity. If a nation which is fighting for her life is able to find money from her own resources, or able to make money, because that is what she has been doing—she has been printing it— there should be no question as far as we are concerned; we ought to be able to provide money for a national scheme at a far lower cost than has ever been attempted in the past. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will fight his hardest to ensure that the cost of money for drainage purposes, in his time anyway, will be at the lowest possible figure. There are people in this country who can indicate how that can be done. To the extent that you pay too high a price for money, you will have to pay your labourers at 30/- a week, or impose on the riparian owners, whether they are ratepayers to the county council or whatever they may be, a charge for the service that is being given beyond their capacity to pay. We cannot have it both ways. Drainage has to be carried out, and it must be approached in a rational way. We ought to ensure that, in regard to this national endeavour, nobody who gives a service will get more than the true value of that service.

I should like to compliment the Parliamentary Secretary on his piloting of this Bill through the troubled waters of the Mulkear and the Seanad. I have already suggested outside this House, and again seriously suggest it here, that the title of this Bill is not correct. I think we ought to call it the National Drainage Bill. We hope the drainage schemes which will be implemented under this Bill will be of nation-wide extent. Senator Baxter has referred to that already. Our national territory is the entire island and we hope this measure will embrace the entire territory of this nation as time marches on.

The point I wish to make is that the title, Arterial Drainage Bill, does not describe what we want to enact. It is the very antithesis of it and the only thing in the nature of arterial drainage we have heard mentioned is the case described by Senator Madden of water running up a hill. If you wish to give the correct anatomical term it should be the Venous Drainage Bill. The word "arterial" is wrong. Arteries convey blood from the heart up hill and down hill through the system, and that is not what we want to do in this Bill. We want to take water from the Quilcagh Hills to the sea, so that the word arterial should be altered to National Drainage Bill.

I think so, too.

Nothing has been attempted on such a comprehensive scale so far as has been put before us in this Bill, and for that reason it should be properly described as a National Drainage Bill. I could imagine some of the lawyers in court arguing that this was not an arterial scheme at all, and that to have it an arterial scheme the water should run in another way. Experience has taught us to be careful and the only scheme in my opinion that will conform to the title is the scheme described by Senator Madden, the Mulkear scheme, where the water is said to be running up the hill. I seriously suggest that the title should be changed.

I quite agree the word "arterial" is not the appropriate word here. In fact it could be omitted, and the Bill called the Drainage Bill, 1945, just as the commission on whose report the Bill was drafted was simply called the Drainage Commission. In fact, the title says that the Bill is entitled an Act to make provision for drainage — it does not say arterial drainage—so that as far as the title is concerned the word arterial is superfluous and the Bill could be styled the Drainage Bill, 1945. However, it is a matter of taste, and it does not affect the substance of the Bill.

I do not intend to go back on the debates that have taken place on this Bill in Committee and on Report. I would like to speak on the Bill as it now stands, and as it will be, when it comes into operation. This Bill imposes on the Commissioners of Public Works a great responsibility. The commissioners, no doubt, have had the responsibility for drainage problems in this country for over 100 years, but this Bill confers upon them wider powers than were ever dreamt of in former days. Senator Sean O'Donovan has spoken of this Bill as a national drainage Bill. He evidently feels, as a result of a process of evolution, that it will be a national drainage Bill with a central drainage authority established not only for the construction of drainage works, but also for the maintenance of drainage works.

Under this Bill the trustees set up by the Drainage Act of 1842, and the drainage boards set up by the Drainage Act of 1853, are swept away, and their obligations, as regards maintenance of drainage works, are transferred to the county councils. Now, the county councils are placed, in my opinion, in a very difficult position under this Bill. They have to take over those districts which are probably in a state of neglect or have been neglected by the trustees and the drainage boards which no longer exist. In many cases, they have to take over drainage works out of proper repair. Section 29 of this Bill gives the commissioners power, simply by writing a letter and serving notice on the county council, to tell them that they are not maintaining their works in a proper state of repair and that unless they do it the commissioners will take over the works, maintain them, and send the bill to the county council. Under this section the council must pay the amount of the demand of the commissioners, or if not, it may be recoverable in the courts as a contract debt.

When I say that this Bill places a great responsibility on the Commissioners of Public Works, I say also that they must act up to that responsibility in their dealings with local bodies, and if this Bill is to be a success, there must be co-operation between the county councils and Commissioners of Public Works. The Bill also provides that the commissioners have power to take over the maintenance of works, so that if the county council did not carry out maintenance to the satisfaction of the commissioners, in the end, all the drainage works in the country will be maintained by the commissioners at the expense of the county councils.

This is simply a half-way measure, and if we are alive in this House after a couple of years we may expect to find an amending Bill introduced by the Parliamentary Secretary, if he is still in office, or if he is in a higher office, by his successor. This is not the final word on drainage legislation. We know that every principal Drainage Act was amended several times. There are numbers of amending Acts. There is nothing final about drainage legislation as there is nothing final about a drainage scheme. We may be certain that no drainage scheme can be absolutely completed, or absolutely watertight because the ingenuity of the engineers of the Board of Works and all their engineering resources cannot fight the heavens and the elements. Therefore in saying farewell to this Bill I wish it the best of luck and I am confident that the engineering staff of the Board of Works is as competent a body of men to deal with the drainage problems of this country as can be found. Senator Baxter suggested that we should import drainage experts. I do not agree.

I said Irishmen who had left the country — gone, out of it.

Even Irishmen who left the country are not as competent to deal with drainage problems as Irishmen who remained at home and grew up with the construction of these works. I think in this matter of drainage the men who really do the work, the engineers in the Office of Public Works, are the men that we have to look to to carry this Drainage Bill when it becomes an Act to a successful conclusion. Therefore, I think that there should be some way by which drainage experts in the Board of Works could have conferences from time to time with the county surveyors. Some suggestions were made here concerning county surveyors. County surveyors cannot necessarily be as great experts on drainage matters as the engineers of the Board of Works. Of course, some people think that if a man is an engineer he knows all about engineering, just as some people think that if a man is a lawyer he knows all about law. That is a fallacy. There are degrees in knowledge.

We will accept that about the lawyers anyway.

Even politicians do not know all about politics.

It takes some people a longer time to learn their business than others.

Some people never learn.

I think that if there could be some way by which the knowledge of the engineers in the Office of Public Works could be placed at the disposal of county surveyors, things would work much more satisfactorily for everybody concerned, and we would avoid the occurrence of this unfortunate dispute in County Limerick which has marred this Bill in its passage through both Houses. I wish the Bill well, and I am confident that good work has been done both by the Drainage Commission in their exhaustive investigation of the subject of drainage, by the draftsmen and by the Parliamentary Secretary, in piloting the Bill through both Houses. The Parliamentary Secretary has not, of course, agreed to suggestions made to him, but he deserves to be complimented on keeping his eye on the ball the whole time. Never once did he raise his eye off the ball, nor did he slice the Bill, nor did it get away from his control. He kept his mind on what he wanted and he achieved it. Some of us may not be pleased that he achieved everything he did, but, at all events, he has brought this Bill through both Houses. He has withstood a considerable amount of criticism. The Parliamentary Secretary is a very inoffensive man, and did not criticise anybody. At all events, he has got his Bill. I wish him good luck, and I wish the country good luck with this drainage legislation.

I feel I must say one word on the question of the Title. Senator O'Donovan attacked the Title. He attacked the meaning of the word "arterial". If one wants to get the meaning of the word the best thing is to go to a dictionary. I have got the Oxford Dictionary here and under the word "artery" there are four divisions and one of the divisions is "artery, a main channel in a ramifying system of communication". What could be more appropriate then than the word "artery" meaning a ramifying system of communication? The second heading under "arterial" has "resembling an artery in having a main channel of communication with many branches. Arterial drains, a system of drainage ramifying like an artery". One word more. We would want to be very careful about experts. Senator O'Donovan is an expert in physiology, and the terms used in physiology I remind the Senator have a wider application than some physiologists suggest.

May I point out that this discussion is purely academic as it would not be in order on this stage to amend the Title? That action should have been taken in Committee and may I request consequently that we have no more speeches on physiology?

Is mian liom, ar nós na Seanadóirí a labhair go dtí seo, slán fhágáil ag an mBille seo agus is mian liom gach rath a ghuidhe air nuair a bheas sé ina Acht ar bail. Moladh an Bille agus bhí an moladh tuillte. Is Bille é a údrós mór-chuid tairbhe agus soilíosa don tír. Chuir cuid againn spéis ann mar gheall air go bhfeictear dúinn go gcuirfidh sé go mór leis an saibhreas náisiúnta. Cuideoidh sé go mór leis na feilméaraí beaga go háirithe — an dream is déine a oibríos ar mhaithe le leas geilleagrach na tíre. Bhí spéis ag cuid eile againn ann mar gheall air gur deis é a chuirfeas ar ár gcumas réiteach d'fháil ar chuid de na deacrachta iarchogaidh a bheas le scothadh againn. Ní féidir an obair atá i gceist sa mBille a dhéanamh gan mórán saothair. Ar ball beidh orainn freastal a dhéanamh ar a lán fear a bheas ag filleadh abhaile, ón arm agus thar lear. Ní beag é tábhacht an Bhille seo go mbeidh ar ár gcumas freastal a dhéanamh ar roinnt mhaith acu siúd.

Tá súil againn, ar nós an Seanadóra Baxter, go bhfuil an Rúnaí Párlaiminte ag smaoineadh ar thórainn éigin ama a cheapadh don obair atá le déanamh. Tá súil agam go mairfidh an duine is sine againn go bhfeicfidh sé mórán de na scéimeanna atá beartaithe curtha i gcrích. Tá súil agam go bhfuil scéimeanna chúig mblian nó scéimeanna deich mblian beartaithe aige agus ag a chuid oifigeach agus go bhfuil rún láidir acu an obair go léir do chríochnú taobh istigh d'achar réasúnta.

Ag an am chéanna, ní foláir admháil go bhfuil deacrachta móra le scothadh sul a bhféadfar aon dul-chun-cinn a dhéanamh. Ní fios an mbeidh sé ar ár gcumas an sáslach agus an goireas eile oibre d'fháil go luath tar éis don chogadh bheith thart. Beidh a lán de gach saghas cóir oibre riachtanach agus, mar duairt an Seanadóir Baxter, tá súil agam nach ró-fháda go mbí fáil air. Ar chaoi ar bith is deacair tarngaireacht bunúsach a dhéanamh ar sin inniu. Na háiteacha is mó a mbeidh an obair le déanamh iontu, níl mórán daoine ina gcomhnaí iontu. Ar an abhar sin ní foláir na fir oibre a aistriú go dtí na háiteacha sin. Bheadh sé deacair, mar atá an saol inniu agus mar atá cosúlacht air, réiteach a dhéanamh leis na hárais chomhnaithe, le beatha agus leis an iomparas, a sholáthar. Udróidh na deacrachta seo costais mór chomh maith le trioblóid. Pér bith céard iad na deacrachta tá súil agam go leanfar don obair le díogras agus tá súil agam nach ró-fhada go bhfeicimid tora fóinteach uirthi.

Rinneadh tagairt don ráta úis is aoirde ba chóir íoc ar an airgead a bheas ríachtanach le haghaidh na hoibre. Aontaím gur ceart an t-airgead d'fháil chomh saor agus is féidir, agus sílim go dtig linn bheith sástá go bhféachfaidh an tAire Airgeadais chuige go bhfaighfear an t-airgead riachtanach comh saor agus is féidir. Ní dóigh liom gur fiú dhúinn bheith ag caint inniu ar 3%, ar 4% nó ar 5%. Brathfaidh an ráta úis ar an saol atá agus a bheas ann, brathfaidh sé ar thoscaí nach féidir a mheas agus d'áireamh ar a bpointe.

Tá mé ar aon-intinn leis an gCathaoirleach nach é seo an t-am ná an ócáid le haghaidh diospóireachta acadúla i dtaobh teideal an Bhille. Ag an am chéanna, ní féidir dom gan a mheabhrú don tSeanadóir O Catháin nach é an foclóir Béarla an t-údarás deiridh i dtaobh téarmaíochta. Le linn don Bhille seo bheith os ár gcomhair le gairid is cuimhneach liom go raibh cuid de na dlíodóirí atá ina mbaill den tSeanad agus snaidhmeanna dubha orthu ag iarraidh brí cuid de na focla atá sa mBille d'fháil sa bhfoclóir Béarla. Ní rabhadar ann, ach chuidigh mé leo an míniú a bhí uathu d'fháil sa bhfoclóir Gaeilge. Thairis sin aontaim nach fiú bheith ag caint ar theideal an Bhille; tá a fhios againn fán am seo go bhfuil brí áirithe leis an téarma "arterial" mar bhaineas sé le siltean nó le draenáil.

Ní maith suí síos gan cur leis an moladh a tugadh don Rúnaí Párlaiminte as ucht a chuid oibre agus an Bille bheith á phlé os ár gcomhair. Mar aduairt an Seanadóir O Riain, choinnigh sé a shúil ar an liathróid i gcomhnaí agus ba doiligh dó sin a dhéanamh agus chomh minic agus a bhí cuid de na Seanadóirí ag iarraidh é a chur dá threoir nó é a chur as alt. Rinne sé a chuid oibre go maith agus le cúnamh Dé beidh rath mór uirthi.

I do not think there is anything new that I could say or that I want to say on the Final Stage of this measure. The Bill has been very thoroughly examined in this House, just as it was in the other House, and I hope with Senator Ryan that it will prove to be, if not a perfect, at least a useful piece of machinery. I was invited by Senator Baxter to deal again with this matter of trans-border districts. I do not think I could deal with that problem any more fully than I have already done. As I pointed out to the Senator on another stage, the things with which I have been concerned are: what powers, first of all, that are being given to do a certain job of work and, secondly, what are the barriers if any that are being erected also? I gave the Senator an assurance here that, in so far as this Bill is concerned, when related to the trans-border problem he has in mind, there are no barriers to the carrying out of the work in which he, Senator O'Reilly, Senator Johnston, myself and all those Senators who belong to border districts are interested. Neither would I think it wise to make here as a matter of policy the sort of statement that I am invited by the Senator to make. He suggests that I should say to our neighbours and friends across the border: "Well, here is a task in which you people should be interested. Here is a task in which your co-operation is being sought. Here is a task for which, if it is to be properly executed, your co-operation is essential and unless you give us that co-operation we shall do so-and-so." I do not believe that a declaration of policy of that type would serve any useful purpose and, although it is suggested to me by the Senator that I should adopt it, I refuse to do so because I regard it as entirely unwise.

Before passing to another point may I say that I was disappointed when Senator Sir John Keane stood up to deal with the matter about which the Cathaoirleach has told us that we are not to speak because it is not in order. I thought that Senator Sir John Keane was going to deal with the other matter raised by Senator Baxter, that is the question of the ways and means by which cheap money can be procured. Not only would I be interested in knowing how cheap money could be procured for the purpose of undertaking arterial drainage works, but I would have a general sort of interest in getting some personal enlightenment on that question.

I hear quite a number of people suggesting that in so far as works of this nature — sewerage, housing, waterworks and drainage — are concerned, an effort should be made by the responsible Minister to ensure that money will be secured at the cheapest possible rates. Everybody whose responsibility it is to undertake or to supervise the carrying through of such work would naturally be anxious that the ways and means for doing such work should be obtained at the lowest possible cost. Having listened carefully for a number of years to many Deputies and Senators who invite Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries to follow that course, and being terribly anxious to learn something about this highly complicated matter of finance, I have been anxious to ascertain from them some idea of just how these things can be done. I must say that I have never secured the sort of enlightenment that I would like to get and I have been again disappointed to-day because our friend, Senator Sir John Keane, instead of dealing with the hare raised by Senator Baxter, got off after another hare that was not half so interesting as the hare raised by Senator O'Donovan.

Senator Sir John Keane does not want cheap money.

I was not suggesting that he did, but at least I thought he would follow the hare, and tell me or the Seanad or the public whether it is possible or not to get it.

He is a good politician.

There is just one further point to which I should like to refer. Not much reference was made to it to-day, but it was discussed on the Report Stage of the Bill as a result of an amendment tabled, I think, by Senator O'Dea. Even after we divided on that amendment I had the feeling that I was not as convincing as I should like to have been; that I was not as convincing as, perhaps, somebody else, who would be more competent than I, would have been, in order to show the Senator who, apparently, was very interested in this matter, and other Senators who seemed to be also keenly interested in it, that the proposal contained in the amendment was entirely impracticable.

Again, I think it was Senator Baxter who referred to it to-day and brought it up to my mind. I know that as a result of the Report of the Drainage Commission, and as a result of the feeling that has got abroad, following the appearance of that report, following the introduction of this measure, and following the various statements that have been made after the introduction of the measure, as to the time it will take to complete this work, even if we were able to undertake the work to-morrow, there has been a more or less depressing effect on those who would like to see the work being undertaken and completed in a short time. Those same people — and I think that Senator O'Dea is one of them —who agree with the recommendations on which this Bill is based, feel that that is the proper manner in which to tackle the problem. The Senator, and others like him, evidently, would like to have it both ways, and if I thought that there were any means by which we could have it both ways, I should be entirely in agreement with the Senator and those who agree with him. He would like to have the job done in the manner set out in this report, but, at the same time, seeing that it would take such a long time, he says, in effect, that he should like to see some reliefs being given here and there. I want to tell the House that, in our survey of the Brosna, we have covered 600 miles of river. Now, that is only one district. Suppose that we were to insert here an amendment such as Senator O'Dea proposed. I agree that his amendment did not propose to tie us down to anything, but at least it opened the door and extended an invitation to everybody, who saw an obstruction in a river, to invite us to come along and look at it. We could not turn it down, or say that it was dangerous or harmful, until we had looked at it. Now, if you take 600 miles of river in one catchment area, think of all the major and minor obstructions that you might possibly find in that 600 miles of river, and then think of all the requests that would come in to our engineering staff to inspect, survey and look at other areas, prepare estimates and consider whether it would be possible or wise to do any work there, or to ask the county council to undertake the work, you can realise what that would entail.

When, furthermore, you throw your mind, not only to the Brosna, with its 600 miles of river, but to every other river with such catchment areas, and try to imagine the ordinary obstructions that might be there, just try to think of all the requests that would come in. Now, while, as I say, we would not be obliged, nor would our hands be tied, in the way of undertaking any work, at least, in connection with such requests, if that amendment were accepted we would have to do something definitely to enable us to say that certain things should or should not be done.

As I said, during the discussion on that amendment, I can assure the House that I realise the Senator's anxiety and his desire, as well as the desire of other people, to maintain machinery to enable a perfect job to be done over the whole, and, at the same time, having temporary machinery, to cope with odd jobs to be done up and down the country, if that were feasible. While I say that, however, I wish to point out that we, in the Board of Works, have examined that matter as thoroughly as possible, and have found that it is not a feasible proposition.

Perhaps I have gone to too great a length in trying to convey, as best I could, some of the arguments that, in perhaps a rather slipshod manner, I may have presented during the discussion of the Bill and of that particular section. I can only say that I hope I have made myself a little more clear than I did on the previous occasion. I would not like the Senator, or the Seanad, in general, to think that I resisted that amendment without having given it some thought. I can assure the Seanad that the decision to resist it was arrived at only as a result of a good deal of consideration. I think, Sir, that that is all I have to say on this Bill.

Has the Parliamentary Secretary anything to say about priorities.

No; because we have made no decision ourselves. The only thing I can say is that we have made a survey of the Brosna; that we are trying to get additional staff, and that if we can get additional staff, and that when the time comes when we shall be able to acquire the necessary machinery and get the necessary authority, we shall proceed with the work; but we have not reached the stage yet where a decision can be reached as to the order of priority in which the problem will be approached. We have had a very interesting discussion and I must say that I was very pleased with the way in which the Bill was received and the way in which the Seanad treated me personally. I am sorry Senator Hayes is not here. I felt terribly sore last night when, as a result, more or less, of a jocose remark on my part, he proceeded to tell the House the sort of crude, awkward boy I was almost 20 years ago when I first came in contact with him in the other House. It may be a bit late now to tell my side of the story. When a man gets "one over" on me, I do not like to give the impression that I am not a "sport" and cannot take it. However, I should not like the Senator to get away with the belief that I have not noticed the very considerable changes which have come over the learned professor as well as the country boy who came up with the clay on his brogues from County Cavan.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be returned to the Dáil, with amendments.